Christ is risen! Now what?
Would you have gotten Easter right the first time around?Before you answer, let’s consider what is recorded in Scripture: Time after time, the risen Lord was unrecognized (e.g., a gardener, a ghost); those who saw him were frightened; and those who heard his witnesses did not believe his witnesses.
Thomas insisted on probing the wounds of the risen Lord. Even when the apostles started to get it right, the results were mixed: “And when they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17)
So we should not be surprised when we read: “But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised.” (Mark 16:14)
Sure glad that doesn’t apply to us! Right? Or does it?
If we live as if we are spiritual orphans, if we live as if God does not want the best for us, if we live as if we can have room for idols and still welcome Christ—then we suffer from unbelief and hardness of heart. Nowadays, if we live as if COVID-19 were sovereign and Christ is not, then that rebuke applies to us.
Fortunately, for them and for us, our risen Lord did not stop with a rebuke. He does not say to the repentant: “Never mind, I’m done with you!” No. Instead he says to the repentant, to those who refuse to be governed by their fears, to those who strive to become stronger than their excuses, to those, Our lord says: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
He commands us to believe and to proclaim. And because God our Lord always provides for his will, we can draw the following conclusions:
- We have a mission of proclamation. Each and all of the baptized must be heralds of the gospel.
- We have a mission of reconciliation. Each and all of the baptized must be made right with God, and help others to be made right with God.
- We are equipped for our mission. Each and all of the baptized have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, and can be fitting and fruitful instruments in God’s hands.
- We are never alone in our mission. Each and all of the baptized live our mission in the presence of Christ crucified, risen, reigning and returning.
So, now what? What shall we do? In this time of fear and doubt, what shall we do? Let’s pray, let’s give thanks, and let’s get busy. We can pray to see the presence of the risen Lord in the Scriptures, in the history of the Church and in the history of our own lives. We can give thanks for Christ’s fidelity, victory and providence. And we must get busy—the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are especially needed in this time of crisis.
Let us live our lives in such a way that our lives can only be explained by the truth that Christ is risen!
When I write next, I will offer another meditation on Easter. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.